Saturday, March 29, 2008

Are you a Book Addict?

I am a bona fide book addict. You may well recognize the following signs of book addiction in yourself if you like to read as often as possible.. You are a book addict if: 1. You can't walk past a library or bookshop without getting books 2. You have books secreted all over the house, in, under, over all surfaces 3. You have many books that you have not yet read, but persist in buying more. 4. You would need more than your remaining lifespan to read all the books you own but have not yet read 5. You get book vouchers for every special occasion 6. You spend time and money browsing Fishpond or Amazon 7. You can read at any time, anywhere and finally 8. You go weak at the knees when trapped in a place with no books, magazines etc But don't worry I am writing a series of books on how you can escape this pernicious addiction. First published on Qassia

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hints for Language Learning

In a global economy it is a distinct advantage to know more than one language. Learning another language helps you to consider your own mother tongue. When learning a new language there are some hints that will make your task a little easier. Hints for Language Learning Be consistent in your application. You need to be exposed to your new language on a daily basis. It might only be 5-10 minutes a day but do it consistently. Learn from a variety of sources - podcasts, textbooks, talking to native speakers, reading newspapers, listening to TV and radio in the language you are learning. You will be surprised over several months how much you can pick up of a new language. Invest in a good dictionary that has your first language and the language you are learning. Try and learn as much about the culture of the area where your language is spoken, visit the area if possible. Culture and language are intertwined. Get used to hearing native speakers of the language so you pick up the correct speed, intonations and linguistic nuances. Speak the new language whenever you can. The Internet is fantastic for this, if you have a webcam or microphone. The use of Skype will allow you to talk to a native speaker for free. Buy some children's books in the new language. This will give you confidence at picking up simple vocabulary and syntax. Relax and enjoy the experience. As the old saying goes: He who has another language has another soul. First published on Qassia

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to Be Happy

Why is unhappiness prevalent everywhere? Why are people swallowing anti-depressants and pick me ups? These questions are asked by many thinking people. What does it take to make me happy? Why am I so miserable? The answer is simple. Look away from yourself, reach out to somebody else in need. Over the last 50 years the sense of community has been broken down by selfishness, by the Me generation. "Whats in it for me?" has become the new catchphrase. To find happiness we do not need to look inward, we need to look outward. What have you done to make someone smile today? What selfless deed have you done for a stranger? From my own experience I have found that caring for others helps me to feel happier, to have more self esteem, and to have inner peace. So tomorrow try something new. try to make a difference to just one person. If we all reached out to others with a kind and warm heart the world would be a far happier place. First Published on Qassia

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to Succeed in Your Career

Here you are fresh out of college and ready to make a start on your career pathway. Great. Go for it, but before you go I have some words of advice for you: 1. Don't assume that you know it all The temptation when you are newly graduated is to think that you know it all, that your knowledge is current and you have a lot to offer. That may well be true but be circumspect when you start a new job, the proof is in the pudding so to speak. Let others see your abilities shine through, noone likes a blowhard. 2. Do be attentive and ready to learn Employers love new, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young graduates. They love them to be attentive and to show their ability to learn new things. Be eager to learn, don't shirk the lowly jobs and make a positive impression by being humble (at least for the first month!). 3. Take the Opportunities Offered Whenever you are offered an opportunity to learn something new, don't prevaricate, jump right in enthusiastically and say "I can do it". Employers hate whingers (moaners) and those who always come up with reasons as to why they can't do things. Every opportunity taken opens more opportunities. 4. Build up "You Ltd" The idea of a job for life is now extinct. Think of every job as an opportunity to learn new skills for "You Limited". Each new skill learned goes into your own toolbox that goes with you from job to job. You are investing in yourself, in your own growth and future. Be loyal to the company while you are there and when you leave, leave on a positive note. and finally 5. If you hate the job, leave, don't go out like a gun-slinger with both barrels blazing!! Sometimes you will not like the job you get, there may be a number of reasons for this. If you have tried and seem to be getting nowhere, get up and leave. Explain to your boss why you are leaving, but don't bad mouth everyone in the company. You will learn very quickly how efficiently the business grapevine works if you ignore this advice. Go forth and good luck. First published on Qassia

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Best Milkshakes in Rarotonga

I have just come back from Rarotonga and while there I found the best milkshakes in the world. Down at Avana on the west side of the island there is an Internet cafe called Doug's Internet Cafe. As well as providing Net services, Doug also makes the best milkshakes in Rarotonga, and in my humble opinion in the world. At $10 New Zealand Dollars (about $7.40 USD) you get a tropical milkshake to die for (don't take me literally on the dying thing). Full of tropical fruits such as banana, mango and coconut they are delicious and I should know. In the 11 days I was there my family had around 30 of these milkshakes. So if you are in Rarotonga (in the Cook Islands), go and see Doug, you wont be disappointed. Rarotonga is the most laid back place I have ever been to, and sitting in the sun sipping a cool, tropical milkshake is heavenly. Doug also has accommodation at $27USD a night, outstanding value. (

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Value of a General Degree

Many today decry the value of a general undergraduate degree but I, for one, beg to differ. The idea of receiving a liberal education is to equip one for civic duty, life and the future. Students who focus their degree to early and look for vocational opportunities in their studies miss out on a great American tradition, the 4 year liberal undergraduate education.

It has been estimated that the average, young, American will change their career 7 times over the course of their working life. The chances are high that the 5th to 7th career changes will be in areas that we don't even know about now. If you were trained as a blacksmith in 1890 you would not have envisaged that the art of the blacksmith would almost regress to extinction while computer engineering, molecular biology, aeronautic engineering would arise out of the ashes of the foundry.

Even in my working life of 30+ years I have had careers in medical science, health management, software development, sales/marketing and consulting.

The general undergraduate degree does two very valuable things:

1. It exposes you to a number of fields and the relationships between them such as literature, politics, history, classical studies and languages. (My undergraduate BA covered 8 humanities subjects and then two courses studying the subjects across the Enlightenment and Renaissance periods of history).

2. It teaches you to think, ask questions, learn to live with ambiguity and realize that the same question can have more than one valid answer. The skill required to write a humanities essay involves thinking, research, collation, evaluation and the development and defense of a thesis. These are very transportable skills.

There is plenty of time in graduate school to tackle more focused vocational content (if you go to a professional school). The subject matter from my own Masters degree in business, completed in 1998 has been superseded in many aspects, whereas the knowledge from my BA is still relevant and the skills learned will help me to my dying day.

I understand the pressure that students come under from their parents to do something useful in college, but the downside is that narrowly focused vocational based education loses currency much quicker than the general skills gained from a good, sound. liberal undergraduate education.

Do a general degree such as a BA or BS and you won't regret it।

First published on Qassia